Posted by: Jo | March 16, 2012

I Shall Not Be In Want

The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not be in want.” (Psalm 23:1)

Psalm 23 is probably the best known and best loved psalm in the Bible and even people not familiar with Scripture have heard that first endearing phrase, “The Lord is my Shepherd”. The psalm is also often sung as a hymn in funeral services because of the comfort of verse 4,

“Even though I walk through valley of the shadow of death….”

but I have always been intrigued by the second phrase of the first verse,

“I shall not be in want.”

What could it possibly mean to be “in want”?

imageI found the dictionary to be very enlightening. This is what I found;

to be lacking; missing something; destitute; deprived of necessities; suffer from basic needs; ill provided; to stand in need; being in dire straits; hardship; abandonment.

What a bleak picture of someone in want! I began to realise why the psalm begins this way. The Bible delivers some of its most powerful messages through comparisons, the book of Proverbs being a good example, and this psalm is a stark comparison of two life styles; life with the Shepherd and life without him. David deliberately begins the psalm with these powerful words to remind himself and us the terrible alternative, “to be in want”, that awaits the foolish ones who would venture through life without the guidance of the Lord.

Perhaps one of the most startling illustrations of what, being in want means, is found imagein the book of Daniel in the story of Belshazzar (Daniel 5). No movie special effects can equal this creepy story, as a wild party is suddenly interrupted by a hand writing strange words on the wall. Daniel is able to give an interpretation through the power God has given him, and what a chilling news he delivers to the king, one of the words meaning this,

“Tekel: You have been weighed on the scales and found wanting” (Daniel 5:27)

To the world around, Belshazzar did not look like he was in want for anything. The thousand people invited to the banquet would have been impressed with his display of wealth; his daring in drinking from sacred goblets, stolen from the temple in Jerusalem; his countless servants and wise men imageready to answer his every beck and call, but yet he was truly in want as he had disregarded the one who held his very life in his hand,

“…You praised the gods of silver and gold, of bronze, iron, wood and stone, which cannot see or hear or understand. But you did not honour the God who holds in his hand your life and all your ways.” (Daniel 5:23)

How often in our own society today do we see people being led astray by worshipping the trappings of wealth? How often are others captivated by the adulation of others? How often still does fame have the power to corrupt? How sad to think that some are so blinded by the world’s standards they do not even know they are in want.

When we honour the one who made us and willingly follow where our imageShepherd leads us, we will never be in want. We can rest in the knowledge that no dire strait exists that cannot be solved by the one who holds our lives in his hand.

“Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” (Psalm 23:6)


  1. Jo , I recognised so well how many of the people that we are in contact with these days are actually ‘ in want ‘. Aquiring the latest items in technology , most expensive car etc they believe they have it all! You make me think so much more deeply about what the bible tells us and understand how relevent the teaching is in our society today. I am so thankful “the Lord is my Shepherd for I shall not want.” Thank you my friend ! xoxo Jennifer


  2. Thanks again Jo. I have another friend, who would like to receive your blog.
    Cheers and God bless.


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